Young tal­ent flour­ishes at Wests

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

Western Sub­urbs’ first team have had an up-and-down sea­son, but a fourth-place fin­ish in the Cen­tral League rep­re­sents good toil for a young squad.

Coach Shane Rufer, who com­muted to train­ings and matches from Palmer­ston North, says a full re­view of the sea­son is yet to be car­ried out.

They are still await­ing the sec­ond team to com­plete their games in the Cen­tral Premier League, where they are lan­guish­ing in last place.

Rufer ad­mits hav­ing the sec­ond team po­ten­tially rel­e­gated to Cap­i­tal 1 is not an ideal sit­u­a­tion for the club, with the first and sec­ond team swap­ping play­ers.

‘‘When you are try­ing to at­tract play­ers to play at Wests, or any club, they will al­ways come with the in­ten­tion of play­ing in the firsts.

‘‘Through form or in­jury or what­ever, they might not al­ways make it into the first team, so it is im­por­tant that the sec­onds are in the di­vi­sion down.

‘‘The sec­onds are bot­tom of the league but depend­ing on other re­sults, they might stay up.’’

Rufer says the changes through­out the sea­son to per­son­nel in the squad – play­ers com­ing in from the UK and Ja­pan, oth­ers go­ing off to US uni­ver­si­ties – made it dif­fi­cult to select a set­tled side each week­end, but he knows that is the na­ture of foot­ball at this level.

‘‘It is such a young squad and at the start of the sea­son I thought no way could some of these boys stand up to this level, but plenty of them did. The men­tal­ity is right, there’s great com­pet­i­tive­ness among the play­ers for start­ing spots, and ev­ery­one feeds off that.’’

At one stage, two 15-year-olds were play­ing for the first team, which Rufer says is a flow-on from Wests’ links with the Ole Soccer Academy. Al­though those ties have been all but sev­ered now, he says the ‘‘tran­si­tion pe­riod’’ they are in will see plenty of young tal­ent com­ing through.

Look­ing back, he says there’s no par­tic­u­lar high­light that stands out, but he got a ‘‘kick’’ from see­ing his young charges per­form as he knew they could.

He says Billy Scott and Michael Fraser must be in con­sid­er­a­tion for end-of-sea­son awards, hav­ing had out­stand­ing sea­sons.

‘‘We had a few of the guys train with the Phoenix, which is great for their own con­fi­dence. One came to me and said ‘I can tackle Paul Ifill’ which is what you want to hear as a coach.

‘‘ What train­ing with those sorts of play­ers does is teach con­sis­tency in de­ci­sion-mak­ing and elim­i­nat­ing mis­takes, which is so im­por­tant at that next level.’’

Al­though he wants to be care­ful what he says, Rufer has no prob­lem pre­dict­ing that Wests will have a good tilt at the Cen­tral League ti­tle in 2012. ‘‘The club is very, very healthy and I think we can push on to win, a lot of the first-team guys want to stay to­gether, which is very pos­i­tive.’’

Rufer hopes to make a de­ci­sion on his fu­ture with Wests be­fore the end of this year.

Solid sea­son: Ryan Cain, left, was one of a num­ber of the young bri­gade that saw Western Sub­urbs through to a fin­ish in the top half of the Cen­tral League ta­ble.

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